Photographing Dried Flower Arrangements
Photographing dried /pressed flowers is not a new technique in photography. In fact it has been done in the "still life" category for a number of years simply because they are rather easy to make and quite easy to photograph. The risk is to do it in a way that has not been too over commercialized.
Dried flowers carry a sorts of mystique about them since a dried flower arrangements can often reminds one of the gold old days or rather brings about and atmospheric feeling of romanticism.
Drying flowers is not that difficult but is does take time and some precautions need to be taken so that they not rot. They object is to let them dry naturally and this most often requires a location away from humidity and sunlight. Preferably one that allows you to hang the specimens upside down.
After you have your flowers dried and have arranged them into attractive bunches then you should plan how you will begin the photographic project as well as selecting the appropriate location.
Keep in mind that if you do not have the time or the patience for drying your own flowers there are many local arts & crafts stores as well as many flower shops that carry them ready for you. It just more fun to do the entire project yourself.
Besides, dried flower arrangements are much more expensive than fresh flowers, drying does not cost you anything besides time and you will be learning a new art in the process which you may wish to pursue later or at the same time while engaged in your photographic endeavors.
When ready to photograph your subjects try to use a location that is dark and illuminate your subjects with a focused light source such as a photographic snoot. Also try to use a wide aperture so that the back ground is out of focus and the viewer's attention does not wander away from the main subject.
Alternatively you can pose your subjects in a location that features old weather wood surfaces such as a table, against a barn door or wooden wall. You can also place other props around the subject to build up the scene. However, try to use props that have muted colors that are complementary to your subjects instead of distracting from them.
Some good props which go rather well with dried flowers are vegetables such as peppers, apples and grapes, wine bottles, glasses of wines, antique looking picture frames, pottery vases, old style table lamps, old antique looking toys, antique looking jewelry, ladies gloves , decorative perfume bottles, old elegant books and writing utensils, manuscripts and so on.
The main color that attract your viewer's gaze should emanate from the dried flower subjects and not much else.
If you want to make your images exhibit a soft diffuse look, there are several filters that create this effect for you. The drawback is that any filter will more than likely have an effect on the picture quality as well as an effect on the camera settings. However, these tend to be nominal and often the results you get by using a filter outshine the effect on the photograph.
The resulting images can be used towards making greetings cards, submitted to general photographic publications, to arts and crafts publications and for the fine art gallery market.
A side effect or result of making your own dried flowers is that you can use them during most holidays and as gift baskets for friends and family as well as used as props for other photographic projects.
Be mindful that your images most show enough details to an audience to make them realize that these are dried flowers, otherwise they make think that this is a fresh flower photo gone wrong.
Use a good zoom lens that allows to to crop as you shoot so that you can crop the images to only show the most important elements and to capture details in the texture and "faded" colors of the flowers.
A good idea is to use decorative candles placed near the flowers to enhance the scene but be attentive not to place them in such a way that they can accidentally turn your flower arrangements into flaming torches.
Overall, the entire project is a test of patience, artistry and good technique. It is well worth it to practice using various backgrounds and backdrops as well as setting the light sources in various angles to "see" how the light interacts with the scene. You do not want to use so much light or to strong of light source that the illumination will overpower the beauty of the subjects. Light the scene properly so that you can capture the essence of the scene without creating a wash out effect.
- DIY: Dried Flowers: Arranging and Drying Flowers & Greenery
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© 2012 Luis E Gonzalez
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